Dr Alex Boraine, former vice-chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, died at the age of 87 on Wednesday.
Boraine's son, Jeremy Boraine, confirmed the news to News24.
According to Jeremy, his father was in remission from cancer, but had been in decline of late.
"He had a fall a week ago and stopped eating. He just became weaker and weaker."
Jeremy said his father passed away somewhere between midnight and 02:00 on Wednesday, at his home in a retirement village in Constantia, Cape Town.
"We remember him first as a loving and wise husband, father and grandfather. We salute his lifelong dedication to non-racialism, human rights, democracy and social justice in South Africa and around the world. Most of all he inspired us with his passion for life and his big heart," Boraine's family said in a statement.
Boraine is most famous for proposing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), as well as being its vice-chair alongside Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, from 1996 to 1998.
He was also the co-founder of the Institute of Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) along with Fredrick van Zyl Slabbert.
He is survived by his wife Jennifer Boraine, his four children Andrew, Kathryn, Jeremy and Nicholas, their spouses, and seven grandchildren.